One of the reasons I so like facilitating Remodelers Advantage Roundtable (RAR) peer group meetings every fall and spring is that I get to interact with some smart and caring remodelers from around the United States and Canada. And because we get to know one another well over the three-day meetings, given that each group has around 10 non-competing member companies, there is a valuable exchange of email throughout the year.
Recently, a member of the Aquila RAR group had made the decision to move from his home to an office space. Ted Daniels, who owns Daniels Home Design and Remodeling in Fairfax Station, Va., had been considering doing this for some time.
Upon hearing about Ted’s decision, another member of the group, Dave Roberts, who owns Roberts Architects Ltd. and the Roberts Construction Group in Evanston, Ill,, wrote a thoughtful email to Ted and the rest of the group, laying out a variety of things Ted should keep in mind when making the move.
Here is what Dave wrote, with a just a few slight modifications for clarity:
“I know from my own experience this is a big step in many ways, but once it’s done you’ll never look back. … Here are a few thoughts to consider in your plan:
1) MORE Reasons for relocating:
- The best reason is when you go home, you’re at home!
- Present employees will see and feel that they’re part of a growing company.
- Company meetings and events at the office might be easier to facilitate.
- Employees might have more “ownership" in their office spaces.
- Clients of all types (as long as they pay that healthy gross profit margin that we all admire you for) will be able to come to the office for meetings. I find real advantages of having them at the office for that "home field" advantage.
- Trades and strategic partners might appreciate that more professional appearance, too.
- You can share all the awards and project photos in the office when clients, prospects, trade visit.
- Your employees will regularly see the awards and triumphs that they have been a part of and feel that import sense of accomplishment.
2) Management responsibilities:
Consider having [Ted’s wife] Gayle--someone else besides you, since you are the salesperson and have many other obligations already--be in charge of the relocation. I’ve moved my office four times and found the experience very distracting. I was pulled away from my important responsibilities and other parts of the company suffered while I was absent. Remember some of the things we saw when we visited [a former member of the group]? His new building construction pulled him away from the company operations. Trust someone else to manage the day to day move so you can keep your eye on the ball.
3) Internal Communications:
Before you tell employees the benefits of moving you might first ask them what they think some of the benefits might be for the company, themselves and you. Let them in on the process and they might surprise you with some of their own reasons. The benefit of involving them in on the new office conversations might be more ownership and buy in. Every day, you trust your employees with design, production and working with your clients, Trust them to help you now.
Find out what their pains are about working in your home, and share yours.
And listen to the Whys they might have about the benefits of an office away from your home.
However I’m not suggesting that they perform the move itself other than they pack up and move their own belongings.
It might be interesting to hear the employees’ ideas about how the office could be organized. It will still be your decision ultimately, but because you took time to listen to them and consider their ideas, there might be more buy-in. And you could be surprised about how they see the most effective ways to assemble the company’s office. You’ll learn something about how they see the company’s organization.
You could approach the office design layout like a client’s design/build project. Your company is the client, and your very capable design-build team produces several ideas in a workshop conducted during three hours (deadline the time with lunch) with the outcome being several office design schemes and budgets for your consideration. Give them a budget and list of the elements that must be included at the beginning. Have a lunch at the end of the process where they present the ideas to your team. Make it fun and something wonderful could happen. You could hold this meeting in the new raw space, as that would make it really interesting.
You could post daily/weekly construction photos online to create a buzz.
Schedule a “house warming” party and invite employees, past and present clients, strategic partners, friends
The party date will push everyone to get the office done.
Lastly: Create and publish a hard deadline to be moved in. Don’t overbuild in a leased space. Get in and open the doors. You can always remodel later."
Reading what Dave wrote, I am struck by how well he addressed a lot of the pitfalls that are often associated with a remodeler renovating and moving into his/her first office. Hopefully some of you readers will be able to benefit from these insights when you decide to take the big step from your home office to a remote one. Once you do make that move you won’t believe how differently you will look at your company!